NEW YORK – Former Columbia heavyweight rower and assistant coach Ben Coombs ’14CC and incoming heavyweight first-year Clay Watson are set to compete on their National teams. Will Solberg '16CC, a member of the 2016 IRA National Champion lightweight varsity eight, will look to join Coombs at the U.S. Trials next weekend.
Watson is set to begin competition with the United States at the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships, August 2-6, In Trakai, Lithuania. The Palo Alto, California, native will row with the coxed fours. Last year, Watson competed at the Youth National Championships and finished second in the men's pair and thirteenth in the eight.
"I am very honored and excited to have this wonderful opportunity to race in Lithuania," Watson told GoColumbiaLions.com. "The men's Junior National team has really come together and I am very excited to go for gold and be a part of what could be the most successful U.S. Junior National team in history."
Australia included Coombs in its lineup for this fall’s World Rowing Championships, September 24-October 1, in Sarasota, Florida. Coombs will row with the men’s eight at the regatta.
Solberg will look to join Coombs in Sarasota when he races in the 1x at the U.S. World Championship Trials, August 6-9, on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, New Jersey. Upon graduation, Solberg has moved to Bellingham, Washington, to train and has his sights set on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"My initial intention following graduation was to compete for a spot in the lightweight four, a sweep rowing event, and my rowing discipline growing up. However, that boat was recently removed from the 2020 Olympic program," Solberg said. "The only option left for me to go to the Olympics was in a sculling event. This year has been all about trying to learn this new discipline. I am extremely excited about the opportunity to race. It’s obviously a four-year process building up to 2020, I still have a lot of work to do, and there are very experienced and talented scullers in the field. I am in a strong place fitness wise and believe my greatest strength is my ability to go deeper into the well then my competition, so hopefully I have progressed enough technically in the sculling discipline to come away with a win."